Listening to Nigel Farage on LBC the other day and hearing him complaining about being on a train and not hearing anyone speaking English etc somehow infected my thought processes because the very next day it was as if I awoke from some Kafkaesque uneasy dream. There I was on public transport surrounded by people who didn't speak English, this hum drum of alien noise that I can't quite understand and I'm sure if I was Nigel, I would have started palpitating as the walls closed in and I felt somehow claustrophobic by all this language difference and immigrants being, well....foreign, I suppose. But this wasn't a train, this was a boat...in a fjord....oh and I'm the immigrant.
In many ways, Norway is probably a Farage utopia, it's not part of the EU and has a fairly tight immigration policy. In many respects it has the leap on him, whilst we hear a lot about happiness ratings, equality and fairness in the press about Norway's ideology, there is also the fact that they have their own version of UKIP - The Progress Party in a coalition with the Norwegian equivalent of the Conservatives. Just pause and think about that for a second, a coalition of UKIP and Conservatives.
Now let's remember I am an immigrant in that scenario. Everyday I go to essentially an episode of "Mind Your Language" with my fellow immigrants, where we learn Norwegian. Most of my peers are East European and Sri Lankan, many are highly educated, experienced and multi-lingual, they are infinitely better at making an effort than I am. Everyday I hear stories of how the various civil service departments here mess them about, either derogatory or lose their papers all the time. The same has happened to me in a minor way, I've been given false information about immigration papers, conflicting advice on tax - from the same tax office, charged £400 to process immigration paperwork when I can come here freely under the EEA agreement etc. It's frustrating being foreign for sure.
I do see a lot of the similar rhetoric here about foreigners coming for jobs as I'm seeing in the UK, sometimes worse. I see it as a foreigner rather than some bleeding heart liberal (I am that too) and I am part of that community that is shunned or looked up and down for being "not from around here". We are all human, we all have feelings. Taking a moment to stand in someone else's shoes would make you realise this. I just wish that this era of blame, divide and conquer the ordinary people in all our societies for the ills of the world would stop. It's a dangerous place to be and we've been here before. I just wish people could look through the cracks of the narrative to see it's a smokescreen so that you don't query some of the real reasons there is so much inequality in the world.
I leave you with what for me is The Ballad of UKIP: